Driven by competition, innovation, and the need to capture new markets, businesses have bought into the idea of improving efficiency across their service-lines through digital transformation.
However, the aspirations and expectations of greater efficiency, better data management, and a sense of moving their business into the new age of modernised solutions have met with varying levels of success. In fact, in many cases, the results were inefficiencies and ultimately, failure.
Organisations face multiple trials on their journey towards digital transformation. It is therefore no surprise that 84% of companies fail in their attempt to transition to a more digital operating model. Even at the top of the market, the challenge is real: According to integrated marketing expert Michael Gale, only one in eight of the Forbes 2000 Global companies get digital transformation right.
With potentially millions of pounds staked on the idea of modernising business operations and opening new revenue streams through digital transformation, the important test becomes how organisations ensure they have adequately scrutinised and optimised solutions to counter these challenges.
In other words, how can companies learn from past industry failures, and help guarantee their organisation achieves its digital potential?
Firstly, an early stage and extensive buy-in initiative targeted at employees is crucial. This is all about the democratisation of digital transformation within an organisation, to achieve operational excellence.
Of course, the true purpose of digital transformation is not just measured in internal efficiencies. Serving customers is the central goal for all successful transformation initiatives, and the best way to know what customers want is to understand the touchpoints they have with a business - the customer journey.
An organisation's employees are often best placed to know the operational requirements needed to understand and improve the customer journey. Ensuring employees accept the rationale behind digital transformation in turn means they can bring the same knowledge and skills to bear on improving the internal processes which impact on customer touch points.
Businesses that are better able to make clear to their workforce that instituting the proposed changes will bring benefit to all, are on track to achieve their set goals. The advantage of this would be a higher adoption rate across organisations, yielding the initial business and IT outcomes as planned.
Working with employees from the inception of management’s plans to embark on digital transformation and educating them on the proposed changes reduces the possibility of distortion or compromise further along the process. Capturing the opinions of employees along the way allows businesses to better understand their motivations or frustrations, offering direct insights into how these changes are likely to impact their productivity. In addition, employee buy-in means greater expertise available to pinpoint deliverable phases within the change project itself, leading to smooth project delivery on time and on budget.
One key outcome of digital transformation is to make teams or departments more accessible to one another. Effective streamlining of company activity in this way helps remove redundant steps or process distortions that cause frustration. It also typically ensures company methods and tools are made available to all, and correctly maintained across the entire service line. Standardisation of procedures at this high level works to cement the integrity of the business, ensuring the safety of all data, processes and protection of sensitive company tools.
Organisations worried about delays in the pace of change will need to analyse and define their set goals better. A Wipro survey on digital transformation established that only 4% of respondents realised half of their digital investment in under one year . An alarming number, but nonetheless an opportunity for proactive organisations.
By creating an evidence-based trail to identify the gaps between current and future process conditions, and recommending remedies to close these gaps, organisations can create not only a psychological safety net for employees, but also a physical paper trail of employee feedback, opinions and survey responses. This assumes there will be process failures and installs working solutions to prevent these failures from delaying the transformation.
Integration woes often result from a failure to develop and implement digital transformation the right way. A piecemeal approach to implementation of new technologies, rather than building them into a cohesive platform, significantly forestalls transformation progress. Technologies that make up the entirety of digital transformation cannot be seen as individual pieces to implement, as their value is lost through a lack of cohesion throughout the various stages of process transformation. Therefore, building in practices that support process transparency and bi-directional communication, are key to the success of digital transformation.
There are other benefits, too. Inclusivity for the entire workforce is a key objective of digital transformation and should not be seen as an isolated outcome, solely for the benefit of a select management group within the business. Rather, the entire employee group needs to be considered, allowing for success to be measured from the bottom up; not the other way round. Likewise with employees being considered, corporations are able to avoid shortcomings resulting from the confusion around workload ownership, as processes are carried out consistently and correctly regardless of who is involved.
Ultimately, companies undergoing digital transformation should always begin with an internal consideration first. This means placing a premium on dialogue around cultural change; making processes more efficient; and empowering employees to make autonomous decisions.
Only when organisations deliver on digital transformation by engaging their employees are they best placed to achieve a greater return on investment.
Dr. Gero Decker, CEO and Co-Founder at Signavio